Thursday, December 6, 2007

Terrebonne Depot

In 1911, the Terrebonne Depot was a stop on the brand new train route cutting across Central Oregon. The route connected Washington and California and opened up the realm of possibility for this rich desert land.

Today, the Terrebonne Depot is open again, this time as an American Cuisine restaurant. On a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago my husband and I stopped in for our first sampling of the fare.

Our main reason for stopping in? My story. The Good Earth Series of course includes key details for the coming of the railroad to Central Oregon--more specifically Hillman/Terrebonne. What a pleasant surprise to find a truly enjoyable respite. The Terrebonne Depot boasts tables and a bar fashioned from the original 8" x 8" old growth fir pier supports on which the original depot stood. The combination of modern elegance and rustic ambiance is quite pleasing.

My husband enjoyed a Mediterranean Burger, complete with feta cheese and Greek olives. Part of the novelty was the buffalo meat patty. House fries accompanied his meal and were a definite treat with the spice adding a surprising kick.

On the lighter side, I tried the tomato basil soup--not for anyone squeamish about basil--and the salad with honey mustard dressing. I know it was only a dressing, but the honey mustard was "to die for." I wanted to lick the plate, but of course refrained.

To complete our meal we splurged on bacon wrapped shrimp. What a find! The bacon added an interesting flair to the jumbo shrimp and was perfected by another tasty sauce highlighted with cilantro and a delicate blend of sugar and spice.

Despite the fact that there was a workable selection of kid friendly dishes, we will not likely make this a weekly stop. The Terrebonne Depot earned a spot in our elite list of "for parents only" guilty pleasures.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The End of NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writer's Month ended at midnight on Friday night. One of my students claims that NaNoWriMo is Japanese for "suffering." Don't believe it for a moment.

Today we totaled the students' word counts. The seniors, a class of eleven students, proudly boasted 90,440 words. The juniors with a smaller class--eight boys and one girl--finished with
103,000 words!

Fifteen of the students wrote at least 9000 words, and one student excelled with 20,280 words.

Overall, this was a great month. Comments heard around school this month included:

"I never thought I could write this much."

"After writing a 10,000 word novel, it will be tough to limit myself to a two page essay."

"Now I am going to have to finish writing my story."

Students accomplished something they never dreamed possible. Even the students who did not reach their goal wrote more than they ever dared before. The writing is not perfect, and is certainly not ready for publication, but students put words on paper. Their fluency improved, their confidence grew and for a few short weeks they knew what it is to be a writer.

The question has been posed, "Do we have to do it again next year?" accompanied by the requisite moans.

However, my resounding "Yes!" was followed by a fiery discussion of the possible stories each student could use next year.

Perhaps the suffering was worth it.


Senior Total 99,057

Juniors 103,000

Total Word Count for November: 202,057

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Review: For Parents Only

I teach High School English. In rare moments, when the towering youngsters are quiet, I look at them and imagine my own children in a few years. Then I wish for a way to stop time.

In the first chapter of For Parents Only, author Shaunti Feldhahn describes a moment when she watched her children breaking away, running down the hill and racing toward growing up. Since we can not stop time we must find a way to cope with the rigors of increased hormones and alien takeovers in our precious little darlings.

For Parents Only
provides some guidance in doing just that. Last night I was reading Chapter 4 entitled, "The Good Thing About Being the Bad Guy." The chapter discusses a parent who is in control and the fact that this is what kids really want. Parenting is difficult on the best of days, being the big bad enforcer of rules is sometimes heartbreaking in the moment. But the truth of the matter is; discipline engenders a feeling of security and love.

Even my seven year old recognizes this fact. On Thanksgiving he listed all the things he was thankful for "having Mommy, Daddy, Sister, and most of all having jobs." I had to ask, "Jobs?" He answered happily, "Yes," and he nodded and grabbed my face for kisses, "because you make me do jobs so I will learn responsibility." I have such amazing children!

For Parents Only covers a wide range of topics: rebellion, discipline, talking/listening, attitude, moods, freedom and others. Drawing on the results of a nationwide survey of kids and teenagers, these questions are addressed:
  • What do moms need to understand about the “tough and tender” boy who values respect over love?
  • What do dads need to understand about their daughter’s need for affirmation?
  • What are the six biggest pet peeves teens have about their parents?
  • Understanding the answers to these and other important questions can help parents make the holidays a time of celebration and unity, not strife and friction.
For Parents Only offers a unique look into a child’s mind and frees readers to communicate in healthier ways as they discover that understanding their kids may not be as complicated as they think.

CONTEST: Send me your "cuter than cute" story about your teen and you can win a free copy of Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice's For Parents Only.

Author Bio: Shaunti Feldhahn is the author of For Women Only and numerous other books, with sales totaling nearly one million copies. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist andother books, public speaker, Feldhahn earned her master’s degree at Harvard University. She and her husband, Jeff, have two young children. Lisa A. Rice is the associate editor of Christian Living magazine, the mother of two teenage girls, and a screenwriter and producer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Update: NaNoWriMo

We are into the second full week and the students diligently write for at least 50 minutes in class everyday. There are the brave few who continue the journey on their own time (fulfilling their homework load) and pushing on towards their individual goals. Our school word count is currently hovering at approximately 16,000 words.

Sounds like we need to pick up the pace!

Monday, November 5, 2007


Ah! Some of you have not yet heard of NaNoWriMo? It is an entire month devoted to writing a novel. A month of drudgery, words, sleepless nights and a larger than life, looming, lengthy goal of 50,000 words or perish.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writers Month. This year my junior and senior English classes are participating in NaNoWriMo YWP. The students are terrified. The students do not think they can do it.

I believe they can. And when they are all done, no matter what their final word count, they will have accomplished more than they ever dreamed possible in the world of writing.

Our total goal is 200,000 words! Sounds like we need to pick up the pace.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Contest: Mosaic

Blessful Writings is proud to offer an opportunity for our readers to win a free copy of Amy Grant's new book, Mosaic.

Here's what you have to do:

Write a brief letter, or essay, explaining how music has touched or blessed your life. Submit your entry via the comment link on this post. Our panel of judges will review the entries and choose the top three entries to receive
Mosaic. All entries are due by midnight October 31, 2007.

In the meantime, keep reading!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An Actress to Remember: Deborah Kerr

Deborah Kerr worked in Hollywood in the days of elegance and discretion. Love scenes were filled with tenderness and promise, never nudity and vulgarity. If you want to see the proof, watch "An Affair to Remember" made in 1957, the movie treats romance and falling in love with the magical hand long sense gone from movie making.

Or check out "The King and I." Starring opposite Yul Brenner, Ms. Kerr portrays the heart of a woman who loved a man, through respect and understanding. Two key ingredients, so often lacking in love stories of today.

Ms. Kerr proved her versatility with the role of Karen Holmes in "From Here to Eternity." She and Burt Lancaster made sand in your bloomers look nigh on erotic. Her Broadway debut, "Tea and Sympathy" also departed from her genteel and proper persona.

Her movies continue to touch hearts and lives. The 1993 hit "Sleepless in Seattle" introduced Kerr to a new generation of movie goers.

She nearly disappeared from the silver screen by 1970, citing disillusionment with the direction of the movie making industry. Who can blame her?
Deborah Kerr said in an interview given in 1982, "Believe me, Cary and I knew how to kiss. When we did a love scene, we may not have been trying to swallow each other but, for those brief moments, we just loved each other."

She also said, "I think I understand what women see in the movie. There is a sweetness that is appealing and far removed from today's crudities. It makes them realize that the world has lost something delightful."

I think she is right.

Deborah Kerr, 1921-2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Review: Mosaic by Amy Grant

Ah! Time to review Amy Grant's memoir Mosaic. I have not read the book cover to cover yet, but I have read several of the stories. For me, it is the type of book I will pick up time and again. I will read a segment, or simply the words to a song--her songs are interspersed throughout the wonderful pages--and feel inspired, encouraged, and uplifted.

The stories are poignant, funny and real. This American icon of Christian music shares little pieces of her life in conversational vignettes. If you are looking for Amy Grant's life laid bare, every little detailed revealed, this is not the book for you. She talks about motherhood, marriage, friendship, faith, loss, forgiveness, and redemption. And of course, she shares some stories about life with the remarkable Vince Gill.

If you want to spend an afternoon reflecting on life's miracles, and crying with someone who has experienced heartaches, check out
Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far.

Best news yet: You, my loyal readers, will have the opportunity to win a FREE copy of Amy Grant's Mosaic. Come back in a few days and find out how!

Amy Grant
is the best-selling Christian music artist of all time and the first to garner the number one spot on Billboard’s chart. Since beginning her career at age 17, she has earned six Grammy Awards and twenty-five Dove Awards, and last year she received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Grant’s numerous television appearances include Oprah; Good Morning, America; and Late Night with David Letterman. In 2007 she’ll tour nationwide, performing with local symphonies in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and elsewhere.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Never Forget

LCpl Jeremy Burris

On Monday, October 8th, LCpl Jeremy Burris lost his life. His patrol vehicle struck a hidden detonation device. Although he survived the initial blast, and heroically aided the other Marines to escape to safety, he was hit by a second blast when he returned to the vehicle to recover equipment.

He is the son of Brent Burris of Texas and the grandson of my Uncle Buddy and Aunt Billie Sue.

Our family sends heartfelt regrets to his family and friends who must endure this time of mourning. May God send his fullest blessings and greatest comforts during this time.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Jenessa Byers

Cancer changed the life of eight year old Jenessa Byers. Earlier this year, ABC's Extreme Makeover changed it again.

Stricken with a rare childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma Jenessa continues to give God the glory for every milestone she reaches. Read about her challenges and celebrations on her website:
Jenessa Byers.

Jenessa is the niece of an old and dear friend of mine. Our family has been praying for Jenessa since soon after her cancer was discovered in January 2006. How thoroughly pleased I was to learn that her family--which struggles with the financial burdens of cancer--has been blessed with an "extreme makeover" home.

Jenessa is a "sparrow" in Oregon.
Sparrow Clubs is an opportunity for Oregon students to help kids who are fighting life threatening or disabling medical conditions. Students learn what it means to have compassion for others and to make sacrifices to help others.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition airs this coming Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Read a preview of the upcoming show on
TV Guide.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Music of Life

I was about ten years old before I cared a whit about music. I didn't own any tapes (those little cassettes with funky brown ribbons in them that were notorious for being eaten by the tape machine), nor eight tracks (gigantic cassettes which no one under thirty has ever seen) and I didn't own a record (a throw back to the first talking machines with their ridges and grooves in black vinyl). The only music I knew about was the stuff that came over the radio, nothing I took notice of then, and hymns, the mainstay of any good Southern Baptist church.

Then one day my dad bought a new pick-up. And by "new" I mean one of those old beat up kinds that he could fix up, make run, and sell when he found a new project. Under the front seat of this super cool find was a cassette. Dad brought the funky off-white, slightly smudged article into the house and asked, "You want this?"

I shrugged, but took it into my room. I didn't have any cassettes before this, but I did have a cassette player--I like to be prepared. I set up the cassette player on my windowsill and discovered the magic of The Eagles and Hotel California.

My interest in music grew quickly after that, but never attained the great depths of appreciation and association some people have. I liked to sing--or was it scream?--songs from Pink Floyd's The Wall just as much as I loved to belt out a chorus of People to People and Pass It On (radical contemporary songs found in the 80's Baptist Hymnal.) I had no idea who sang my favorite song, Running with the Shadows of the Night. I didn't know the difference between Sylvia and Amy Grant.

I have friends who can sing choruses, and even entire verses from songs, not to mention naming the artist and quite possibly what album the song is from. For example, I hated the New Kids on the Block, but one day, after weeks of LOVING a particular song I discovered to my chagrin that it was the quintessential NKOTB song. (Yeah, ok it was Tonight, I'm over it.)

My taste in music is eclectic to say the least. I still have some of those fabulous "long playing albulums" (if that phrase is foreign to you, you haven't watched Grease 2 enough) a bizarre collection of cassettes and a chaotic mix of CDs. (I started buying CDs before I bought a CD player, because I like to be prepared!)

Buried somewhere on my computer is a collection of mp3s. There is only one iPod in our family so far, but I still enjoy a bit of music from time to time. In fact, this week I discovered a fabulous group called Rescue. They are an a cappella group with a heart for ministry. The best part of the group? The vocal percussionist, reminiscent of 80s beatbox, but so much more! Check them out at

In the years since I received that first Eagles tape, I have learned the value of music. The format of music evolved. The genres of music evolved. My taste in music evolved. One thing stays the same, music touches my life. Certain songs elicit memories. Memories of people who are no longer a part of my life. Memories of dreams once chased. Memories of good moments, crazy moments, and moments best forgotten. But music brings all these things together and orchestrates the novel which is my life.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Better than Diamonds

In my cache, I have two very precious jewels.

The first, shimmers with goodness, purity and light. The second is bright, sparkling, and well I have to say it, priceless. If I had to describe their color I would say the former is yellow sunshine and the latter is liquid blue highlighted with fiery red sparks.

Once a year, I have to let them go out into the world on their own. Today is that day. For the next nine months their luminosity and clarity will be challenged. It is a little like throwing them into the fire and seeing how much farther they can be refined. I will have glimpses of this refinement in the coming months, but not until some day in the future will I see the fullness of this polishing.

So, I whisper my quiet prayers for protection and care. I lay my heart before the Lord and entreat Him to surround them with His love. And I trust that these precious gifts he has allowed me to enjoy will come home more vivid and exceptional than before.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Find out what it means to me...

So when you think of Aretha Franklin, you think R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Sock it to me.

As my wonderful wife has pointed out, the most popular Aretha song of all time was actually written by a guy. Not just any guy, but Mr. Sittin'-on-the-Dock-of-the-Bay himself, Otis Redding.

This guy was smooth. He was good looking. The girls loved him. But according to his song, he just wanted respect.

Heck, ask any guy if he'd prefer to be respected or loved, he'll most likely choose respect. It's the way we're raised, and it's the way our brains are wired.

So it should come as no surprise that many guys have a tough time showing love to their wives. Guys often think that the way to show their wives love is to do things for them, earn more money, work harder, buy more other words, by being a guy!


She doesn't want your stuff, she wants YOU.

But...what does she need from you?

Well, most men cannot figure out women at all. Heck, there are men in their 80s who have been married 50 years who still don't understand women.

Since we are often so very clueless, our all-knowing Creator has TOLD us in his Word:

Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. - Ephesians 5:33

OK, so there's that respect thing again...but we must love her as we love ourselves? Hmmm...

Lets back up...

In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. - Ephesians 5:28-31

Wait..."as their own bodies"? "Become one flesh"? That has a familiar ring to it...

Then the Lord God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called ‘woman, "for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family. - Genesis 2:22-24

Wow. So from the dawn of time to Jesus' coming and thereafter we have been commanded to love our wives as if she were part of our own bodies...because spiritually she IS part of our own bodies!

But this has limitations, right? I mean, there's some things that a guy just can't put up with. Right?


Consider this....

The Lord said to me, “Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery. Likewise, the Lord loves the Israelites although they turn to other gods and love to offer raisin cakes to idols.” So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her. Then I told her, “You must live with me many days; you must not commit adultery or have sexual intercourse with another man, and I also will wait for you.” - Hosea 3:1-3
Hold it...time out. God wanted the prophet Hosea to go to his wife, who was not only gone but shacked up with a new guy, and to take her back? And he was not only commanded to take her back, but to LOVE her!

Little did Hosea know that this was setting the stage for a "bridegroom" yet to come.

Jesus loves His people unconditionally and without reservation. He is the bridegroom to His bride (the Church) just as men are the bridegroom to their wives.

He loved us so fully that he left His place in Heaven to come to Earth and live as one of us. He loved us so unconditionally that His sacrifice on the cross paid for ALL our sins, past, present and future, no matter WHAT we do.

So too must men love their wives fully and unconditionally. Only when she feels fully loved can she meet your emotional needs and find out what it means to YOU.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Little Respect

What you may not realize is that Aretha Franklin's number one hit song, R.E.S.P.E.C.T., is a cover of a song written by Otis Redding in 1965. Despite the song's popularity and common affiliation with the feminist movement, it was originally written as a song about a man's desire for respect.

"What you want
Honey you've got it
And what you need
Baby you've got it

All I'm asking

Is for a little respect
when I come home" --Otis Redding


Sounds simple enough.

But...In my experience, women tend to place more value on love. We ask, "do you love me?" We spend hours, days, years figuring out ways to be loved or to be loved more. But how much time do we spend figuring out ways to increase the amount of respect we have? Not nearly as much as men.

How does a woman show her man respect?

Remember the Taming of the Shrew? Petruchio insisted on a little respect. Kate had to learn how to give it. The ensuing relationship was built on mutual contribution: Kate learned to respect him, Petruchio learned to love her.

Some interpretations of the play, I'm certain, portray her as a docile, domineered wife. However, in an earlier post on the Shrew, I suggested Kate might show some qualities of a biblically submissive wife. A simple reading of the play may not give that interpretation, but plays are meant to be seen, not read! The Ashland production this year, played to the interpretation that Kate learned to honor her husband, even respect him.

The preface, presented to add depth to the hearing of the play, even suggested Shakespeare's England may have known a few things about biblical submission. The point is: Kate did not roll over and play the doormat and is not to be mistaken for Ibsen's Nora Helmer.*

Why mention Kate again? Because she learned a few things about speaking to her husband and to others about her husband.

Just like Kate, most women I know have a way with words. Most importantly, we know how to cut with words, but that same ability allows us to build up with words. Perhaps the first step in showing our husbands respect is watching our words--how we speak to him, about him, and for him.

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction
is on her tongue."
--Proverbs 31:26

For more information about the issues of love and respect check out the book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs called Love & Respect.

*Nora Helmer is the protagonist of Henrik Ibsen's play
A Doll's House. In Ibsen's play, Nora is the quintessential oppressed wife. She was a possession of her husband, not his partner. The marriage relationship served to dehumanize her and rob her of her own identity.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A Tendering in the Storm

I am currently reading Jane Kirkpatrick's A Tendering in the Storm. The story is written from the perspectives of two main characters: Emma Giesy and Loisa Keil.

Originally part of the same close-knit religious community, these two German women have traveled across the rugged Oregon trail arriving in the Northwest in the mid 1850's. But their paths have taken them in different directions. [Read A Clearing in the Wild, book one in the Change and Cherish series, to find out what divides the flock.]

Louisa and her husband, leader of the community, continue on to settle in the Aurora Mills area, near present day Portland, Oregon. Louisa is struggling to put the death of her son into the context of her life. He lives on in her, and she now seeks to understand what sin she committed to warrant his death. Her very nature is absolute submission to her husband.

Emma Giesy, remains in Willapa--Washington territory--with her husband and small family. She desires the freedom to speak her mind, explore the wisdom she feels brimming inside and to live independently, at least a little, from the religious family that surrounds her. She dares to believe women are more than quiet servants to their men, and hopes that they may even be equal in the eyes of the Lord.

The novel is based on a true story; filled with historical detail and vivid true-to-life characters. The women come alive, as you walk alongside their exploration of fear, vulnerability and strength. Mrs. Kirkpatrick weaves the natural beauty and spirit of the Northwest into every chapter. Words and images (oystering, the ocean, the swaying lantern to name a few) are chosen with a deftness that conveys the import of the landscape on the lives of these women.

Emma Giesy explains about the inner strength of a woman: "It's something I've learned about myself since coming here. What we can do on the inside isn't always reflected by what's on the outside."

"Sounds like an oyster shell..." Her friend Mary replied.

As I continue to read, I expect that we will see more of what Emma, and Louisa for that matter, are really made of--on the inside.

Jane Kirkpatrick is the best-selling author of two nonfiction books and twelve historical novels, including A Clearing in the Wild and the acclaimed Kinship and Courage series. Her award-winning essays and articles have appeared in more than fifty publications, including Daily Guideposts and Decision. A winner of the coveted Western Heritage Wrangler Award, Jane is a licensed clinical social worker as well as an internationally recognized speaker and inspirational retreat leader. She and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 acres in eastern Oregon.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Shakespeare on Submission Part II

Shakespeare, a proponent of submission? Verily!

In the Taming of the Shrew, the play builds to a pivotal moment: the three newly married gentleman engage in a little good natured ribbing which results in a wager. The wager is meant to determine the most "obedient wife." Of the three, Katharina is the only one to come when her husband bids. She is then sent to retrieve the other wives and she admonishes them:

"Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt....

And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,

And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey...."

Forsooth, dear Kate! Obedience? Service? Kneeling?

You must be kidding.

But she's not. Check out what another writing says about submission:

"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:22-24 NET Bible

Kate is not so far wrong after all.

And really, if you look at the entire context of the play, what has she learned? Perhaps, that being a shrew is pretty nasty business. It is not the way to "win friends, and influence people." But when you consider the overarching theme of disguise, it is interesting to consider who concealed themselves the most fruitfully.

Katharina put on the guise of a shrew, her mode of dealing with the inequity of her father's excessive and cosseting treatment of her sister. Bianca put on the guise of an obedient and charming woman, her way of winning a prized husband. But who gains the most in the end?

When Petruchio sets out to woo his wife, he decides the best course of action is to kill her with kindness.
(Act IV Scene 1) His harsh words are not directed to her, but rather rails and flails on her behalf. Always insuring her comfort and care. He praises her wit and beauty and emphasizes her value.

Petruchio's methods could be construed as an attempt to break Kate's will. But nothing could be farther from the truth! He compares his plan to the taming of a hawk. Falconry does not seek to break the spirit of the bird, but redirects the hawk's natural impulses. Her fiery spirit is one of the things that drew him to her from the beginning, he has no desire to put it out.

Petruchio adopts the guise of the shrew. From his behavior, Katharina sees herself in a new way. And despite his pretense she experiences, first hand, the equity of the next verse in Ephesians.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;" Ephesians 5:25 Net Bible

Katharina's reprimand to the other wives ends. She turns to her husband and says:
"My hand is ready; may it do him ease."

Petruchio replies:
"Why there's a wench. Come on and kiss me Kate."

And she does.

One more thing. Skip down a few lines, past the pained musings of the other husbands, and read Petruchio's final lines,

"Come, Kate, we'll to bed.

We three are married, but you two are sped.
Twas I won the wager, [To LUCENTIO.]
though you hit the white;
And, being a winner.
God give you good night!"

In the OSF production (summer 2007) the players left little doubt to the meaning of these words. Petruchio and Kate leave hand in hand. Smiles on their faces and a impish wink from Kate to the other brides.

Has he tamed her? Or loved her?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Shakespeare on Submission

Although some critics insist The Taming of the Shrew no longer has a place in our modern, forward thinking culture, playgoers flock to its presentation. This past weekend, my husband and I attended the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and heard the Shrew in the Elizabethan theatre with nearly twelve hundred other playgoers.

First, a little background and summary for the
Shrew. A shrew is a small "mouselike insectivorous" mammal.


A mouse?

Yes. That was the original, and enduring definition. The word was adapted along the way to mean a "spiteful person" (c. 1250), "wicked, or dangerous," and "evil or scolding" person. And it meant a
male. Not until 1386 was the term applied to a woman. It is possible even that Shakespeare's creation had some hand in refining the word to become the term we associate most often with a nagging, scolding, violent-tempered woman.

And so begins the play, with a shrew. Or more specifically the play begins with an "induction." The induction frames the play, and sets up the players as a vision or dream watched by a man named Christopher Sly. The theme introduced here is: beware of appearances.

The conflict is evident from the beginning: The merchant Baptista has two beautiful daughters--Bianca, lovely and desirable and Katharina, lovely, but despicable. He insists he must marry off his eldest daughter Katharina before he will give Bianca away in marriage.

Bianca's suitors agree the only way to succeed in their pursuit is to find a man who is willing to take the fair Kate for his wife. Petruchio, a fortune hunting man of Padua, enters and agrees to woo the maid.
What follows is a cacophony of concealment and deception. Bianca's suitors don complicated disguises to wheedle themselves into her and her father's good graces.

Petruchio begins the difficult task of taming Katharina and arranging for their impending marriage.
In the end, Petruchio and Katharina are quite happily married. Bianca has married Lucentio, a man of Pisa, and another of her suitors has found contentment by marrying a widow. It is in the final scenes that we see who the real "shrew" is.
  • Could it be the fiery Katharina who scolded and screeched all of her life?
  • The fair and docile Bianca who was evidently a victim of her sister's rages?
  • Or perhaps the father who favored one daughter over the other?
In the final lines we have Shakespeare's view of submission through Katharina's closing monologue...and this is where we will begin in part two of this post.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Jane Kirkpatrick: Change and Cherish Series

Jane Kirkpatrick's newest book, A Tendering in the Storm was released earlier this Spring. My husband and I are taking turns with the book, as I will be writing a review to be published on this blog sometime around August 6th.

After attending an author event at Paulina Springs Bookstore earlier this week, we realized we needed to get reading. Mrs. Kirkpatrick signed books and spoke about writing, "first baskets" and coping saws. She never fails to leave her audience with tidbits of faith and encouragement to live strong in the Lord.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick is an award winning author, with at least fifteen titles to her name. She writes Historical fiction filled with faith and often based on the lives of real people. I am impressed with the open friendliness Mrs. Kirkpatrick displays when speaking to her fans. After seeing her in person, you feel that she has opened up her personal world and let you in, a bit like visiting with an old friend over a cup of tea.

The Paulina Springs Bookstore is located in historic Sisters, OR. If you are not familiar with Sisters, it is famous for PRCA Pro Rodeo events and the annual Quilt show. The Rodeo was in June, and the quilt show is in full swing this weekend. If you are passing through Central Oregon plan to either join the fun or avoid Sisters entirely because main street will be impassable today.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Thousand Tomorrows, Karen Kingsbury

While chatting with a friend this evening I was reminded of a book I read a few months ago, A Thousand Tomorrows, by Karen Kingsbury. I have read many books--enjoyed many books--over the years, but this book stood out for two reasons.

First of all, it made me cry. I am not talking about a few tears, although that is how it began. There were entire sections of this book that turned on the floodgates. Heart-wrenching tears that challenged me to take a hard look at myself and my own feelings about life, love and marriage.

Secondly, the characters were living, breathing people. They were challenged by life and learned to overcome--not by their own power, but through the power of God. I was, quite honestly, relieved to read a book that allowed the protagonists to be flawed. She writes about sinners who keep on working out their faith. ( A little like the passage from Phil. 2:12)

I know Kingsbury has written a number of other books--several surrounding the 9/11 attacks and the lives of those impacted. I look forward to reading One Tuesday Morning and Like Dandelion Dust when I am no longer swamped in historical research, but I plan to have a box of tissues at the ready.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Enough is Enough!

Have you ever spent a tormented night waiting for the Lord to answer your prayer? You toss and turn questioning the rightness of a particular decision. Is this the Lord's will? My will? What if I misunderstand? What if I choose incorrectly?

In Genesis 32 Jacob wrestled with God. Of course when the struggle began, he did not know with whom he wrestled. Often this passage is compared with prayer. The NetBible challenges this common allegorical interpretation pointing out that it was not until the man touched Jacob in the hip, crippling him, that he realized his opponent was the Lord. Only after he stopped fighting, did he ask for a blessing.

What an interesting idea. He stopped fighting.

He asked for a blessing.

The prophet Jeremiah writes to the exiles in Babylon and reminds them to whom they belong. He writes these words from the Lord: "When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, I will make myself available to you,’ says the Lord..." Jeremiah 29:12-14a

Seek the Lord in prayer. Seek Him with all your heart and soul. Ask for a blessing.

Wouldn't that be so much easier than wrestling all night long?

"It's my will, and I'm not moving
Cause if it's your will, then nothing can shake me
It's my will, to bow and praise you
I now have the will to praise my God" --DC Talk

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Historical Snippets

Train Schedule 1900
The Good Earth series fictionalizes the railroad war of 1908-1912 through the Central Oregon desert. In the first book, Bethrina Granger is sent from Seattle, Wa to Hillman, Oregon. Along the way she encounters a variety of characters who will help her in her journey to become a confident self-assured woman of God.

One segment of her journey takes place on the Columbia Southern Railway from Biggs to Shaniko. During the first decade of the twentieth century Shaniko was the "wool capital of the world." By 1911, a flood in Hay canyon and the completion of the new line from the Dalles to Bend left the Columbia Southern Railway to the history books.

Bethrina settles in a small town known as Hillman. The town is named for two railroad barons, Hill and Harriman, who dream of connecting Washington and California by rail. The ensuing rail war will challenge Bethrina's faith and determination in ways she never imagined possible.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Writer's Spouse....

So how do you lovingly tell your wife that her new chapter really stinks?

Don't know?

Neither do I...

Thankfully, she hasn't written a stinker yet. I don't anticipate this issue arising, but the military man in me likes being prepared.

So far, my duties regarding this book have been simple: tell her she's doing great and help her edit her work.

The first one's really easy. The second...not so much.

The work continues.

When you DO read this book, you may notice that the author has skillfully portrayed male mannerisms and speech despite her lack of a Y chromosome. I think she'll give a nod to at least a couple guys in her life....

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mary Higgins Clark: No Place Like Home

My first love may be historical fiction, but every now and then I enjoy a good psychological thriller. Nothing too twisted, but a book with a lot of suspense. There's something decadent about vicariously experiencing danger through the pages of a good novel.

Mary Higgins Clark's
No Place Like Home delivers a good pace, plenty of clues and a solution that satisfies.

The pacing is good. She reveals enough clues, strategically placed, to keep up the tension and keep the reader engaged. However, this is not a book that compels you to read it straight through the night.

Clark's ability to drop clues is once again superbly demonstrated in this story. She weaves a tale that is believable, and lulls the reader into a false sense of security before springing the climactic surprise.

The solution is believable, but the epilogue throws in a twist that sounds a bit like an afterthought.
This is a very good read. However, if you are looking for an edge of the seat thriller try one of her earlier novels such as: Where are the Children?, The Cradle Will Fall, or Loves Music Loves to Dance.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Send in the Clowns

My grandmother has fallen victim to a vicious predator of the aged. Is it Alzheimer's? Dementia? We may never know. For more than a decade, she's been afraid that her doctor is conspiring against her. Sometimes she thinks he is trying to steal her land, at other times she believes he is trying to kill her by prescribing "rat poison." (It was actually coumadin--a blood thinner.) She refuses to go to the doctor anymore.

The problem is, her deteriorating memory is leading to a myriad of dilemmas. She is becoming more and more unstable.

She puts Metamucil in the coffee pot. She questions who the "old man" in her bed is (Poppo, her husband of 45 years). She puts dirty dishes away instead of washing them. She is convinced the government took her driver's license away because she turned eleven.

This is a woman whose memory was longer than the Willamette River. She worked as hard as any draft horse. And she cooked well enough to--well, she cooked well enough. She plowed, and hoed, and raised a field of roses.

Soon my dad and uncle will have to place her in a care facility. What a terrible decision to have to make! The good news; Poppo has finally realized it is time, and he is ready to go with her. Even through all the pain...through the lapses in her memories...through the hateful things she says and does in her diminished state, he loves her.

In an earlier post ("Marriage First--Part III," published March 15, 2007) I asked the following question:

"If a husband is not meant to be our strength, if he will never love and accept us perfectly, what is he good for?"

Poppo is a wonderful example...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Writer's Life: Finishing the First Draft

Who would have thought it would be so time consuming to finish the first draft? Actually, my struggle is the temptation to edit and rewrite as I go. Of course, I argue, doesn't that mean I will have less to do at the end?

Not necessarily.

The story evolves. (Can I use that word in a Christian setting?) Anyway. As I write the story changes, reshapes, refines, transforms...The novel I am working on this year, is one I began almost seventeen years ago. My worldview has been refined. The story I want to tell has changed.

But I need to finish. No one else will ever read this story if I keep writing and rewriting. My story isn't meant to be the best story ever written. I do hope it is an engaging story that may have some touching or funny moments, but most of all, I want my readers to remember my characters, to glean from their stories.

Then of course, to finish book two and three.

Friday, May 11, 2007

DET @ SJ Game 4 - Tomas Holmstrom

It's playoff season. When I am not writing and chasing children I am watching the Red Wings. This goal by Tomas Holmstrom is simply awesome. Look for another BIG quiet Swede in the first book of my Good Earth series.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Month of May

Time is slipping by so quickly! May is such a busy time for our family. I have a birthday, my husband has a birthday, and thanks to Uncle Sam our wedding anniversary is this month as well. The sun is up so long it is nigh impossible to get the kids to bed at a reasonable time.

We have already been to Washington once (come to think of it, my hubby's been twice) this month. We have oodles of family arriving at various intervals during the next six weeks.

The good news is, I have outlined the rest of my novel. The writing is progressing.

I should be back in a routine soon, and will begin publishing posts every few days again.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Review: Falling for Rapunzel

Falling for Rapunzel is a charming fractured fairy tale. This updated version has Rapunzel completely oblivious to the fact that the prince has come to rescue her. High up in her tower, she is unable to understand his directives meant to save her.

He calls out--Rapunzel, throw down your curly locks. Having misheard his words she throws out dirty socks. A series of rhyming couplets move the story along as the totally baffled Rapunzel tosses numerous things out of the tower.

How long does the prince attempt to save the self-sufficient Rapunzel? Can a couple with such horrid communication ever find happiness? Read the story to find out!

The illustrations are fun and kitschy. Lydia Monk used a combination of acrylics, colored pencils and paper montage to create the wonderful landscape and amusing detail that compliments the words perfectly.

The recommended age level is 4-10, but it is fun for all ages, and a great read-aloud.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Paul founded the church of Philippi during his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-40). Later, possibly while in Rome, he wrote to the church from prison. As with any letter, Paul conveys several messages to the people to whom he writes, but for this post let us concentrate on his message of contentment.

In chapter four Paul writes of his thanksgiving. He expresses his thanks for their concern. Then the verses that have often made me wonder, "I am not saying this because I am need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing." (Phil. 4:11-12, NET Bible)

Paul knows how to be content? Even in jail?!! I don't know a lot about prisons, but this was, after all somewhere around 49 AD, anywhere you were would be far below any 21st century American standards. I imagine the jail situation was not pleasant.

Yet, Paul used the word autarkhs which means sufficiency or contentment. What can he possibly mean?

We live in a society where more is better. The one with the biggest toys wins. There is always a bigger, better, more modern house, car, computer, cell phone, etc. Even if you have no desire to upgrade to something new, then corporate America forces our participation if we are to keep doing the things we have become accustomed to doing. For example, by February 19, 2009 any home relying on broadcast TV will be forced to have a digital converter to receive these stations. An analog TV will be obsolete.

How can we find contentment when we are never satisfied?

Where does contentment come from? Look back at Philippians. Paul says, "I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13, NET Bible) Is he saying it is not all about us? Not about what WE can do? Our contentment is not about our achievements and abilities?

Isaiah 40:31, NET Bible "But those who wait for the Lord's help will find renewed strength..."

God gives us the strength to live day by day. He gives us the strength to not only survive, but be content--no matter what comes!

His Grace is sufficient for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Standing Against the Odds

Yesterday's tragic shooting at Virginia Tech has prompted me to post a Case study I wrote a few years ago. The audience is primarily teens, but could be used with other groups as well. Lessons plans are available. This case study is copyrighted. If you wish to use this material please email me--include the name of your group and the setting in which you wish to use the study. I will send you a complete document, including lesson plans, that may be used one time with a small group. All other use is prohibited.

Standing Against the Odds
Study of “David and Goliath” 1 Samuel 17:8-50

~Jefferson High~

Jefferson was a typical high school. Students milled about, tending to social duties before first period. Everyone consumed with the complications of young love, raging hormones, and avoiding the watchful eyes of homeroom teachers. Students trying to fit in. Students trying to break away. All trying to figure out who they are and what their purpose in life is. Asking themselves: What choice do I have?


Looking at her, Mariah was not unlike the other students, even if she was barely over five feet tall. She wore the popular hip hugging jeans paired with a baby tee emblazoned with a smiling yellow sponge. She carried a bright pink cell phone in her leopard print bag. Everyday afterschool she attended volleyball practice and left in a battered blue Honda that once belonged to her older brother. After practice she rushed across town to her part-time job at the Beanery.

But there was something about Mariah that set her apart from her peers. She was a Christian. Not an Easter-morning-go-to-church kind of Christian. Not a “going to church cause her parents do” kind of Christian. She was a Bible carrying, church attending, friend evangelizing, Jesus freak. Her faith loomed large about her. Her friends knew. Her teachers knew. Her classmates knew.


Steve, on the other hand, would try anything once. And honestly? If it didn’t kill him the first time, he would probably try it again. The more he looked for pleasure and happiness the less he found. He grew to hate everyone around him, almost as much as he secretly craved to be loved and accepted by them.

Tipping the scales at 250 pounds he had been scouted by the football coach, but Steve dismissed the notion, complaining the coach’s demands were too outrageous. School work, responsibility and teamwork held no appeal for Steve.

If he stopped to look back, which he never did, he would remember that he had been very well liked--even popular--until his freshman year. The year his dad died. Six months after that, his mom remarried. And every week since, Ron, his stepdad gave him a $100 bill and said, “Find something to do.” Ron preferred the nights when Steve didn’t come home at all.


Steve and Mariah didn’t run in the same circles. Once, he made a pass at her, in his way. Then stood aghast when she replied kindly, politely even, to his lewd suggestions. Later he cornered her by her car and asked “Why ain’t you like other girls?”

“I think I am.”

“Nope. You ain’t.”

“Steve, I live my life for the Lord. His expectations aren’t the same as yours.”

He laughed at her.

Steve knew the stories about this so-called God. His dad prayed every day, insisted on regular church attendance, and cried out to God in his final hours. Why would a loving God take such a man away?

He also knew Mariah wasn’t the only fool to believe in this fantasy. With an almost submissive spirit, he knew what he would do.

~The Choice~

Mariah and her friends sat whispering in the library, cheerfully making plans for the football game on Friday night. Their conversation barely slowed when they heard the first commotion in the hall, but the noise grew louder. And suddenly, someone was screaming.

The three girls stood and started toward the library’s double doors. The screaming multiplied. Students ran. A tall figure appeared in the half glass of the library doors and they caught a glimpse of a rifle swinging.

Frozen by terror they watched. The rifle crashed through one of the panes and the girls whispered desperately to each other. “Get behind the books!”

The doors burst open just as Mariah’s pale gold curls disappeared behind a low shelf. Shots ripped through the room. Mariah covered her head as books, torn from their shelves, rained down on her head.

The librarian tackled a freshman near the office.
The two crashed to the floor and seconds later the office door was barricaded. Steve ignored them. He had seen the one he was looking for.

He called her by name, “Mariah?” He smirked. “I know where you are. If you'll stand before me, I’ll let your friends live.”

She remained quiet and calculated her chances of changing positions. It’s only about ten feet to the sophomore hall entrance. Maybe--

Before she decided he stood over her. “Stand up!” he ordered. The gun trained on her. “There is only one way out, for you and your God-lovin’ friends.” She remained where she was, tears streaming down her face. “Stand up!” he yelled.

Her vision blurred. She forced her shaking legs to support her and dragged her eyes to his. He accepted this and continued: “Admit there is no God.”

Neither moved. No one spoke. The library was silent.

After a few moments he asked, “Is there a God?” but his meaning was still clear: deny God and she may live, stand for her faith and she would die.

What choice did she have?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Old Homestead

My husband and I have been reading Jane Kirkpatrick's Homestead. The true story follows Jane Kirkpatrick and her husband as they face the challenges of building a home along the John Day river in the early to mid-1980s.

In our free time we are searching for a home of our own. Currently we rent. We have dreams of a home with an office (for my writing), a large yard for kids to play, and a kitchen with space for a coffee bar, a large pantry, and enough counter space for two to make sushi.

The problem: land is an expensive commodity in Central Oregon right now. If we find a house we like, it is on a postage stamp size lot. When we find the yard we love, it has a home that needs a good remodel and update to accommodate a family of four (or more someday.)

Every now and then we imagine our own homestead. Taking that leap into the wilds of Oregon--a place where no man has traveled (at least no phone, cable or electricity.) The trials and tribulations that the Kirkpatrick's faced help put that possibility into perspective.

Then there is the question of faith. Waiting upon the Lord. We know that He will direct us and guide us to the home He has for us. In the meantime, are we being good stewards of our time and resources? And how does our dream fit with His will?

Authors Note:
Jane Kirkpatrick is an Oregon author. She has written more than a dozen books, with her newest release A Tendering in the Storm available this week. The first chapter will be available on her website after April 17th.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Start Making a Reader Today

When I was little the phrase "Reading is Fundamental" was gaining momentum. All I really knew was that someone somewhere was encouraging kids to read.

The Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program has it's roots in 1966 Washington, D.C. Former teacher Margaret McNamara gifted four boys she was tutoring with books. The boys were overjoyed. She soon learned that many children have never owned a book of their own. She organized a group of volunteers, and by December of 1966 the RIF program was launched.

Today I volunteer with a program that is very similar to RIF. Every week, for one hour, I read with a child. The program I participate in is SMART: Start Making a Reader Today.

The SMART program is a non-profit literacy organization in Oregon. Children are chosen for the program on a case-by-case basis. The child is pulled from class for fifteen minutes twice per week to read with a caring adult volunteer.

Twice per month the child is given a choice of books to take home. The child is encouraged to take books at their current reading level. Over the course of the school year the SMART kids should receive a total of sixteen books. Children can participate in SMART any time during K-3 grades. If a child participates all four years they should have a collection of sixty-four books!

The program is completely dependent on adult volunteers. It takes only one hour a day, once a week, but you can make a difference for a lifetime. Often children are chosen for the program based on circumstances or reading ability. Either way all children benefit from reading and being read to.

Reading ignites the imagination, improves vocabulary and spelling, and increases a child's success rate in school and life. The RIF program is available in all fifty states. SMART is an Oregon program. Make the time. Start making a reader today!

Monday, April 9, 2007


Western Heritage Gathering: Women of the West--Part V

The day concluded with a presentation by Jane Kirkpatrick. What a remarkable story she has to tell! If you have not read any of her work, I highly recommend Homestead. This is the true story of the years of work and struggle Mrs. Kirkpatrick and her husband went through to carve out a life along the rugged John Day river in Central Oregon.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick discussed the four expressions of women of the West: landscape, relationships, spirituality and work. To demonstrate each expression, she presented slides of paintings by artists, Emmy Whitehorse, Hung Liu, Anita Rodriguez and Alison Saar.

Landscape sustains people.

Relationships strengthen us.

Spirituality reminds us this life is fleeting.

Work is what we do.

These four elements help create the story of women of the West. How does the land influence or hinder? Who are the people that come into our lives? Why do we live? What fills our days?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

School Marms, Saloon Girls, & Calamity Jane

Western Heritage Gathering: Women of the West--Part IV

Molly Gloss set the record straight about women in the West. Her love of literature, and westerns in particular, has provided ample opportunity to become familiar with the "accepted" version of women's roles out West. However, dissatisfied by the dime novel and Hollywood portrayals she did a little research of her own. The result: The Jump-Off Creek and Wild Life.

Think about frontier women--women of the west--whom you have seen on TV or movies. I think of the mothers who gave their all, such as "Ma" Walton and "Ma" Ingalls. Or the rough and tumble tom-boy Doris Day portrayed in Calamity Jane. Or Judy Garland (the proper maid) and Angela Lansbury (the saloon girl) in the Harvey Girls. The other often portrayed woman of the west is the teacher, as in Christy or Ms. Beadle from Little House. More often than not, women in old westerns were portrayed in stereotypical ways and suffered from the want of a good husband. Was there more to the story?

Molly's presentation was "Proving Up: Homesteading Women in the Literature of the American West." In the late 1800s less than one-half of homesteaders were women (without men!). By the 1910s every one in five homesteader was a woman. Women made their way West as mothers and wives. But how often do we hear about the single women wanting to work the land? The hard-working widow? Or the deserted wife/mother who must make the way as head of the household?

To "prove up" an individual had to be 21 years of age, head of the household, live on the land, make improvements and farm the land for five years. The real kicker? Women proved-up more often than men!

Read about real women of the West. Dozens of books are available regaling the lives and struggles of these women. Read until you break the mold of popular novels and movies.

Tip: Look for memoirs written by women who homesteaded in your area.

And don't forget, Alice Day Pratt's Homesteader's Portfolio (1922), Three Frontiers (1955) and Animals of a Sagebrush Ranch (Juvenile, 1931). This remarkable woman, single and nearing forty, traveled from her home on the East Coast to file claim on 160 acres of land in Central Oregon (Prineville area).

For a more modern version of the homesteading woman read Jane Kirkpatrick's, Homestead. I will write more about this fabulous book in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One Hundred Years Down the Road

Western Heritage Gathering: Women of the West--Part III

The Imperial Ranch has been in operation for over one hundred years. The legacy of that first homesteader lives on in the rich history still maintained on the ranch.

What does this mean for my loyal readers? My first novel begins in the rain-drenched region of Seattle, but moves quickly into the High Desert of Central Oregon: First stop Shaniko. The Imperial ranch is fifteen miles Northwest of Shaniko. Considering the size of the ranch and the success of the same, at the turn of the twentieth century, watch for historical references to this important ranching family.

Driving north on highway 97 you may notice roadsigns proclaiming, Bourbon Lane, Starvation Lane, Egypt Lane, Rufus, Dufur, and many others. If you have ever wondered about the origins of the names dotting the West--as I have--check out
Sherry Kaseberg's, Sherman County Place Names.

Mrs. Kaseberg contributed to the Western Heritage Gathering by sharing a "field trip" through Sherman County. She presented an enjoyable slide show accompanied by informational teasers about how places were named. She grew up in Moro listening to the stories of her elders, relatives and other area residents. The data was eventually compiled to create her book.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Imperial Ranch: Ninety Miles & One Hundred Years from Bend

Western Heritage Gathering: Women of the West--Part II

The first presentation at the Womens Heritage Gathering was from Jeanne Carver of the Imperial Ranch near Shaniko, Oregon. Her energy and vitality was engaging. There was no doubt that this woman loves the land and the history she inherited as the current ranch woman.

Some of the history she imparted:

Richard Hinton was born on the Oregon trail en route to Lane County where his family settled in the 1850s. He grew up in the Willamette Valley watching the land be fenced, plowed and become overcrowded. In 1871, he shook the mud from his feet and headed to the high desert of Central Oregon.

With a lone packhorse he found his way to the area known today as Bakeoven and established his homestead at age nineteen. He bought sheep and cattle and began farming. The next year he married Mary Emma Fitzpatrick and brought her home to his bachelor pad: a dugout cave in the creekbank. Together they raised two children in this little cave. After ten years of hard work they proved their claim. Mary died the very next year.

Richard continued to be a shrewd landowner and rancher. His flocks flourished as he developed a remarkable cross-breeding program for quality meat lambs and wool. Within two years of Mary's death he met and married Clara Bird, this time bringing his new wife home to a home he had built on the ranch. Clara was a socialite and was not required to work the ranch as her predecessor had. Two more children were born.

Hinton became the largest single proprietor in Wasco county, and eventually all of Oregon. By 1900 the Hinton's were able to build a Queen Anne home, which still stands today. The family hired staff including a personal cook, house boy, private tutors and a chauffeur. The family enjoyed trips to Portland (where they maintained a rented apartment) for theatre and cultural events. Clara and her daughter were able to commission dresses made by the renowned Shogren Sisters.

James Hinton, Richard's oldest son, took over the ranch in 1915. His business acumen never equaled that of his father. James did not marry until he was in his fifties. By the 1930's a man from Antelope named George Ward joined the operation. George and his wife Mary (Hampton) earned James' respect and in 1945 a half share was sold to George.

Subsidies were introduced in the 1930s. War and synthetic fabrics further cut into the highly profitable sheep industry.

Mary Ward was a true partner to George Ward. She handled the people and the bookwork. She would drive to Portland to hire from Skid Row or to Gresham for fruits and vegetables. The ranch was still known for the entertaining begun during the days of Clara Hinton. Mary was involved in the care of her home, Wool Grower's Association, Cowbells, and the PTA. In her free time she drove to Portland to take tailoring classes.

James Hinton sold his remaining share of the ranch to George Ward in 1967. George and Mary struggled through their final years of ranching. Following a serious car accident George and Mary relied heavily on prescription drugs, pain killers and alcohol. Their children refused to continue the rigors of ranch life and the ranch was soon sold to Dan Carver in 1988.

Today the ranch continues the tradition of sustainability with four commodities in production: sheep, cattle, hay and grain. The sheep business is still a challenge, but the Imperial Ranch is finding their way. Through ingenuity and determination 100% of the meat is now sold to restaurants. Quality wool yarn and project kits from the Imperial Ranch can be found at Woodland Woolworks and The Stitching Post. Finished garments can be found through the national retailer Norm Thompson. A complete list of locations carrying Imperial Ranch products is available on their website.

The headquarters of the ranch is a National Historic District and can be viewed by prior arrangement.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Western Heritage Gathering: Women of the West

Moro, Oregon is a charming little town approximately 20 miles south of the Oregon/Washington border at Biggs. Anyone traveling from Biggs south on highway 97 to Central Oregon will pass through Moro. Just off main street is the Sherman County Historical Museum with a pleasant park and restrooms for the traveler. The Café Moro serves up a very nice meal (and when we visited, offered a Military discount which we greatly appreciated!)

The Presbyterian church, which has been active for one-hundred twenty years, hosted the Western Heritage Gathering on Saturday, March 24th. The gathering celebrated the role of women in the West (homesteaders, postmistresses, ranchers, wives, mothers, writers, and a myriad of other roles unlike those we see in moving pictures.)

Nearly one hundred twenty-five people attended the event. Drawn from all over Oregon and parts of Washington to remember the women who came before us into the great land of the Pacific Northwest.

The presenters included women who are continuing the tradition of strength and endurance in this rugged landscape. Over the next few days I will share some of the things I learned during this event.

Oh the journey that still lies ahead!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Review of Bad Kitty

In an earlier post (March 3, entitled "Weekend Warrior") I lamented having only one reader for Bad Kitty. First order of business...I was so preoccupied with the topic I forgot to properly cite this book. I will remedy that oversight now.

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel is a charming ABC book for children. My daughter picked this book at a Scholastic book fair. I was hesitant at first, encouraging her to choose something at her reading level (I admit I was pushing chapter books.)

Once we placed the book in our collection it became one of the household favorites. The pictures are colorful and fun. There is a prevailing sense of silliness. Cat lovers (and haters) will find something familiar. My children love to read along with us (my husband and I sometimes read in tandem) and the kids add the sound effects.

Bad Kitty is not your every day alphabet book. The Kitty is a character you can care about and unlike other ABC books has a plot with tension. The author has identified some unusual phrases and words to keep the rhythm and interest of readers. The best part is the ending...

Age recommendation: Great for emergent, developing and fluent readers of all ages.

Bonus: The cover pictures lend themselves to pre-reading predictions. Ask children to make predictions about why the Kitty is "bad." Also, how might the character on the back cover contribute to the story?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Response: Marriage First -- Part III

What is a husband good for? What about killing spiders, mowing the lawn and fixing garbage disposers?

But in all seriousness, the insights presented in the post below underline the fact that we should not go through life seeking our "perfect mate" on our own. We should instead trust that if the LORD needs us to be married, He will bring us together with that person in His time. Far too many marriages fall to pieces because we base them on our own strength and our own definition of marriage rather than trusting that the Maker of the universe knows what He is doing.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Marriage First--Part III

Men were not created to carry us. A husband does not supply our strength. (For a quick study of what the Bible says about strength, check out a few of the following verses: Ex 15:2; 1 Ch 16:11, 27, 29:12, Ps. 18:1, 32, 39, 23:3, 29:11, 59:9, 17, 105:4, 118:14, Isa. 33:2, 40:29, 31, 49:5, 58:11, Jer. 16:19, 1 Co. 1:25, Eph 6:10)

Let's take it a step further.

Have you ever dreamed of someone who would love and accept you completely?

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary puts Psalms 118:9 another way, "trust in him [God] alone to accept and bless us."

Oh my. Is it possible that we find the greatest acceptance in God? The one who made us and knows all about us? If you are seeking this kind of acceptance through love and marriage, you are looking in the wrong place.

"Do not trust in princes, or in human beings, who can not deliver!" (
Psalms 146:3, NET Bible)

A husband will never live up to the dream. God is the only One who can love and accept us completely. God
is Love. (see 1 Jo 4:8 & 1 Jo 4:16) And His love is perfect.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love."

(1 Jo 4:18, NET Bible)

If a husband is not meant to be our strength, if he will never love and accept us perfectly, what is he good for?